Category Archives: Poetry

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe

We have yet to explain, however, in what manner the blood finds its way back to the heart from the extremities by the veins, and how and in what way these are the only vessels that convey the blood from the external to the central parts.
– William Harvey (1578–1657). On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Her slender arm is clasped in his hand.
One finger softly brushes translucent skin,
feeling her fluttering pulse quicken.
Tracing fragile veins, from elbow to wrist.

Part of him longs to take a scalpel,
and part her skin, like stage curtains.
Hungering to explore her circulation;
to reveal the intricacies of her anatomy.

She shudders. Picturing again the animals,
still breathing, splayed in his study.
The mewling cries, the scalpel’s glint;
his notebooks full of precise sketches.

An intense stare and narrowed eyes,
her husband, pathologically curious.
Enslaved to the pursuit of Knowledge,
that most insatiable mistress.

Despite herself, she craves these moments.
The unexpected thrill of his gentle touch,
the novelty of his breath on her neck,
and the subtle warmth of his skin on hers.

Too soon, he will return to his research.
Immersed again, in miniature anatomical worlds.
And with heavy heart she will wait, hopeful,
that one day he will find his way home.

De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson

St Andrews, Victoria

Grapes move inexorably towards ripeness. Inside the berry,
behind its fleshy walls – the mechanics of veraison. Acid

levels fall, sugars rise, the flesh dehydrates, phenols and
tannins grow fat with flavour. Little factory, humming with

alchemy, broadcasting musky perfume into the autumn
air, wave after waft of sweet enticement. The aromas are

streamers the fruit unfurls into the atmosphere, festooning
the vineyard with the intoxicating odours of harvest. Once,

grapes were blessed before vintage, a priest in regalia
sprinkled holy water over the vines. Vestiges remain of the

blesséd grape; mythic presence, thrum of spirit. Festivities
celebrate the crop – laden tables adorned with grape-leaf

foliage, glasses boasting previous vintages, friends proposing
toasts. Happiness to have the harvest home. Before the feast –

the delicate balance of sugar-levels and picking-friendly
weather. Humans are on hand with measuring devices and

daily readings; instruments and science pick the exact moment.
Birds fly in early with special picking teams, preferring their

grapes on the tart side of sweet. They discern the perfect timing
for their forays with only fragrance to guide them – fine natural

viticulturists, regardless of weather. Scores of Silver Eyes find
tears in the nets, waiting in orderly aerial queues like planes

in airport landing patterns, co-operative and collision-free
without traffic control. Bird after patient bird flies through

holes smaller than a child’s fist, keeping entries separate from
exits. Vociferous local Gang Gangs troupe in for the day,

return home to roost each night. Pied Currawongs become
familiars in daily-ness, arriving en masse to take up temporary

residence. Their vestments are formal. They decorate dusty paths
with brilliant blood-red splats studded with ruby gems; startling

splotches of colour which brighten the dull dun and tan bush.
They announce the season, the readiness of the crop. A single

bird initiates the call, anticipates antiphonal response. It rings
out onomatopoeic; currrawong, currawong, currawong.

Volleys of sound echo the valley; dawn greetings warbled
into pristine cold mornings, chansons chanted into crisp-

skinned days, solos sung into the descending chill of dusk:
beautiful, haunting. Each phrase tapers to eerie vibrato,

finishes with rising intonation. In secular times, the birds
offer the vineyard the simple grace of choral benediction.

Vintage Song by Anne M Carson was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones

I’ve pencil-sketched threads of light
across a black-blue sky
spread from a crack on the horizon
of a restless ocean;

I’ve veined in lit rivulets
across a summer moon
and the intricate splinters of saffron glass
in the eye of a caged eagle;

I’ve mixed cadmium pale yellow
with cerulean for the inside tone
of a portrait, used Windsor lemon
and cobalt violet for filigrees of an iris;

but it’s the blind girl I met in Waitrose
with tinted glasses that I want to paint
her air of something
I could neither touch nor know.

Sight Beyond by Audrey Ardern-Jones was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens

As he made his way down the ladder,
nervous as a kid on a climbing frame,
he was still rehearsing the lines
in his head. The sun struck sparks
off his spacesuit, tinting the scene with sepia
while up above the command module
skedaddled across the sky like a firefly
as the stars flared and died. Below him
the crescent of home sank in the blackness.
That is all ye know on Earth, he thought,
and all ye need to know.
When his boot
touched the surface his heart burst
and he knew the words he had to say
were useless but he said them anyway.

Keats on the Moon by Al McClimens was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh

Desire in the Cheap Seats – a poem by Robin Lindsay Wilson

Robin Lindsay Wilson

Desire in the Cheap Seats

smoke entertains him
as foolish chorus girls
lift it to their bosoms
with a scoop of feathers

it pulls a strap out of place
then crosses the limelight
to make him swallow

as it shakes and sways
in the body-heat breeze –
climbing the dead smiles
of half naked starlets
he wants to applaud

a half turn and a high-kick
sends smoke tumbling
along red velvet aisles
to twist under trouser legs-
flipping loose the buttons
on his swollen crotch

when percussive pink hips
lift his soul with a roar
and drum the male ovation
from the Pit to the Gods
he bursts into tears

as the orchestra moans
falters then beats a pulse –
he stands inside the fug
to shout out his demons

***
‘Desire in the Cheap Seats’ was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones.

Two poems by Ross Cogan

Ross Cogan

Loki as falcon

I slide the skin on over my own skin;
cold, corpse-like it is and cratered where quills
stand in their inkwells. A savage eye
I shrug on too and a barrage of sharp moons.
My new flesh knows the call of a thermal,
the joyful song of the ploughed field I can ride

real as a stream while this raiment of sails
sets and trims itself again and again
with each new note. Caves have been cut
in my bones; my shriek splits clouds like the shrill
scrape of iron on whetstone. When I return
youth lies in my talons, tight as a nut.

In your hands

I wonder at the small bones that you keep
locked in your hands’ chapel, tight in their sleeves

of skin like the white chalk under downland.
And I wonder at the way they mesh, side laid

on side, tips touching like a clinker keel,
or fall open showing boundary, canal.

Lend me your palms’ heat; let me reorder
its small muscles, tangle my own fingers

in yours, neat as the beams beneath the slate.
Cast your dice for me. Show me my fate.

***
‘Loki as Falcon’ and ‘In Your Hands’ by Ross Cogan won the Second and Highly Commended prizes in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones.

Foetal Cues – a poem by Andy Eycott

Andy Eycott
Foetal Cues

The comma hangs,
An ash heavy cigarette,
Taped to the skin of my lip.

It hangs condemned,
A brief stop gap,
A breather.

A connection
From one word
To the next.

It hangs with
The patience of light
From a burnt out star.

A bent nail
To catch lucky horse shoes
Thrown across oceans.

The oscillation of a fan blade
Onto my palette,
Dry as a seagulls’ cry.

The arc of a bridge,
The precision of a fish hook,
The worry of a question mark.

A hinge to connect
One thought to another
One world to the next.

‘Foetal Cues’ by Andy Eycott was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones

Fighting the Biography of John Clare – a poem by John Gallas

John Gallas

Fighting the Biography of John Clare

How dull and vexing is it, that each man,
though free to plough, still turns the self-same ditch.
I looked for more. At Helpstone yesterday,
I threw myself onto a stubbled field
with half an apple and the Book of Clare
to read a store of Verslings with the bees,
the careless mouse, the brook, the flibbling trees,
the hedgehog and the lark, the nimbling hare
and all the bosky fronds and friends revealed
by half a sun in wigs of clouds. The hay
stood stacked in stooks, and down the half-flowered twitch
the planted pylons strod. So I began.

Begin in gladness.
Pass to madness.
End in sadness.

Did I expect some other life, to lead
my troubled share about another earth?
Some root-and-branch re-making of our years?
It rained: I stayed. The rawky pages blopped
with disappointed summer, and the wind

disturbed to little frenzies all the tops
of witchen, whin and woodbine, and the copse,
with dark green mouth agapen, ducked and dinned
upon its cracking brig. Enough. I dropped
my core into a thurrow. Word and rhyme,
leaf and line have had their pennyworth,
and common died amongst the common weed.

Begin in gladness.
Pass to madness.
End in sadness.

*
‘Fighting the Biography of John Clare’ by John Gallas was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones.

Moon-egg – a poem by Camilla Lambert

Camilla Lambert
Moon-egg

Where the beach
had pushed the sea
down and stretched out
in ribbed sand to the rocks,
he bent down, picked out a pebble.

A pale moon,
he told himself,
feeling its curve nestling
in his palm. Or a hungry star?
Its pocked skin smelled of cold space.

He turned it over,
assessing the weight.
Or a sandpiper’s egg?
He tapped, sifted thoughts.
No, this one must be a moon-egg.

He laid it down
on a nest of blackened
bladder-wrack as waves
flickered across the sand
to lick around the cratered shell.

He left it circled,
resting behind the world,
as neap tides slid to spring
Only the dunlin flocks were there
to see a new moon slip up above the sea.

‘Moon-egg’ by Camilla Lambert was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2016) judged by Terry Jones

Poem by Scott Elder

Recital

 
The sound of her name rings in the air.  It’s always been there.

Alice is waiting.  An aisle flutters under her footsteps.

At the end of the aisle a piano is waiting.  It’s ever been there.

Instants flicker and merge to a hum. She stills her breath

to breathe in the silence, closes her eyes and envisions a field.

The field is empty and covered with snow.  A lady is standing

dead in the centre.  Alice, she whispers, it’s time to go.

A blackbird starts, wings a line through snowflakes falling.

The notes begin to bubble and purr.

 
Scott Elder lives in France with his three young children. Since winter 2013 his poems have appeared numerous magazines in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA. A first pamphlet was published by Poetry Salzburg in July 2015.  He was a runner-up in the 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize and his work has been respectively highly commended and commended in the Segora Poetry Competition 2015 and the Wild Atlantic Words Competition 2015, and long listed in The Plough Prize 2015 and the 2016 Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition.